social media customer service center
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Social Media Customer Service: Everything You Need to Do it Well

Social media is one of the most effective channels for customer support in today’s digital world. Whether they have questions, complaints, or compliments, people are increasingly using social to connect with businesses.

While your brand may be well-versed in social marketing, it’s still easy to overlook the basics when it comes to social customer support.

If you have an effective customer support strategy for social media, you’ll have happier customers and an opportunity to increase revenue. This guide will show you how to get started.

What is social customer support?

Social customer support belongs under the umbrella of social customer service. The difference is that social customer support focuses primarily on support issues or service requests. For example, if someone has an issue with your product and reaches out on Twitter to ask about bug fixes, that’s social customer support.

A lot of marketing and sales opportunities on social media overlap with customer service, but aren’t support requests. So if you’re running a Facebook contest and participants want information about rules, a quick and helpful reply is an example of good customer service—but that’s not customer support.

Why your organization needs a social customer support strategy

According to a study by J.D. Power, 67 percent of consumers use social media for service requests. Brands that master social customer support can benefit in a variety of ways:

  • Revenue growth—Brands that are great at social customer service will outperform brands that aren’t. According to a study by Aberdeen Group, companies delivering social customer service see an annual financial gain of 7.5 percent, versus only 2.9 percent for brands that don’t. These brands also experience a 5.4 percent increase in social buzz, whereas brands without social customer service don’t experience any gains.
  • Customer loyalty—When someone enjoys a positive customer service experience with a business on social media, they are nearly three times as likely to recommend the brand. Meanwhile, more than 50 percent of consumers stop doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience.

How to get started with social customer support in 3 steps

1. Set up a dedicated social handle for customer support

Brands often have a separate handle on channels like Twitter to manage customer support requests.

At Hootsuite we have @Hootsuite_Help, which is run by our support team. This helps filter out support issues from our primary channel which we use to engage our audience with original and curated content.

If you decide to create a social channel strictly for customer support, be sure to include the handle in your brand’s other social profile bios so people know where to reach out for support-related requests.

You can’t be on all channels for support, so it’s best to choose one or two that best suit your needs. To get inspiration from awesome customer support accounts on Twitter, check out Spotify, Warby Parker, and Telus’ dedicated support channels.

2. Designate a social customer support lead

If you’re committed to offering support on social media, you should elect or hire a dedicated team member to run those channels.

Before hiring an employee to run your social support program, you should:

  • Understand the unique skill set required
  • Figure out what you’re looking for (what channels you want managed, how often you want posts published, etc.)
  • Identify how they will work with other support members

3. Create social media guidelines

Social customer support has different challenges and opportunities than social marketing. It’s important that you have social media guidelines dedicated to customer support that align with your company values. That document should cover things such as:

  • Tone of voice
  • Response time for each channel
  • Answers to frequently asked questions
  • Protocol on escalations or other customer issues
  • A message approval procedure and a permission management system

Social customer support tips and best practices

These are a few key things to keep top-of-mind while you manage your social customer support channels.

Find and monitor conversations relevant to your business

It’s important to anticipate customer needs before there is an issue. As one of our social experts at Hootsuite, Gabrielle Maheux says, “Providing social customer support doesn’t always need to be as transactional as a question being asked and answered.”

That means monitoring conversations around your brand and responding to customers—even if they didn’t reach out directly to you. Here’s how to do that.

Pro tip: Use Quick Search in Hootsuite to monitor keywords

With Quick Search in Hootsuite, you can easily identify conversations happening around your brand and save them to your dashboard as a stream. You can search keywords and hashtags related to support queries. You can also use Geo-Search to monitor and reply to social posts in a specific region.

  1. To do a quick search, choose the magnifying glass icon in right corner of dashboard.
  2. Select the social network you want to search.
  3. Type what you’d like to search for and press enter.
  4. Select Save as Stream to your social profile tab.

Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.

Find out more about other monitoring tools you can use in Hootsuite.

Don’t wait for a question or complaint—be proactive

If you’re launching a new product, anticipate questions or potential support issues that people might have. Use those to create educational content that you can share on your social channels such as a how-to video or a best practices blog post.

This will lessen the amount of support tickets you get and will increase engagement. For a more in-depth look at proactive social customer support, check out our guide.

Pro tip: Store reusable support content in Hootsuite

If you have a Hootsuite Enterprise account, you can use the Content Library to store, organize, and share pre-approved social customer support content for your customers.

To create a content library:

  1. Select the publisher icon in the launch menu.
  2. Under Content Sources, select Content Library.
  3. Tap Create Content Library.
  4. Add a title for the library and add your pre-approved content.

Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.

Respond quickly

When customers reach out to brands on social, they expect a fast, friendly response. A study by Twitter showed that 71 percent of Twitter users expect a brand to respond within one hour.

Pro tip: Use streams for listening and engagement

Using tabs and streams in Hootsuite, you can monitor multiple networks and conversations happening around your brand so that you can quickly respond to support requests.

  1. Click Add Stream in the top left window of your dashboard.
  2. Select the social network and profile you’d like to create a stream for.
  3. You’ll have a range of options for the types of streams you want to create depending on the social profile you choose.

Learn how to get even more out of Hootsuite with free social media training from Hootsuite Academy.

If you need to assign a social message to a team member:

  1. Select Streams in the launch menu.
  2. Click the assignment icon below the message you’d like to assign.
  3. Enter the name of the assignee.
  4. Add a note if you’d like to include context.
  5. Click assign. The team member will receive an email notifying them.

Address complaints

Millions of social media complaints go unanswered—a big missed opportunity for many brands. Complaints provide an opportunity for you to remedy issues and turn negative experiences into positive ones.

According to Amex’s Global Customer Service Barometer, 60 percent of consumers will share a bad customer experience, and 46 percent will discuss a good one.

Pro tip: Convert social posts into support tickets with Hootsuite

The Zendesk app for Hootsuite allows you to create tickets in Zendesk from social messages found on Twitter and Facebook. You can route tickets to other team members and respond directly to social posts from Zendesk. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Install the Zendesk app.
  2. Go to the stream with the social post you’d like to convert.
  3. In the dropdown menu of the post, select Create Ticket.
  4. Fill out the required information and the ticket will be created in Zendesk.

Use data to make informed decisions

Tracking social media metrics will give you insight into the effectiveness of your customer service efforts. According to a study by Forbes Insights, 29 percent of companies using data analytics significantly improve their customer service.

For starters, you should measure comment volume, average response rate, and customer satisfaction.

Pro tip: Measure your performance with Hootsuite Analytics

Hootsuite Analytics lets you measure and share the impact of your social customer support efforts. You can get real-time stats on performance and create any number of reports.

Start by measuring team performance. This will tell you how many requests you’re getting and how long it takes for your team members to respond.

Pro tip: Gauge sentiment with Hootsuite Insights

With Hootsuite Insights you can understand how people feel about your brand on social and filter for things such as location, gender, and language. You can get started by setting up sentiment streams in Hootsuite to track customer satisfaction over time.

When you’re setting up your social customer support program, you don’t want to overlook the basics. Follow this guide to start running a successful social support channel for your customers.

Learn more about Hootsuite’s social customer service solutions and request a demo.

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